Today is June 6, 2019, 75 years since D-Day, the biggest invasion by air and sea the world has ever seen. It was a mission that could NOT fail, as the fate of the free world depended on it. It was heroes who charged head first into the sea and up a cliff, and into hails of never stopping bullets. I truly believe this was the "Greatest Generation."
My father served in World War II, although he was not on the beaches at Normandy. George Faltot served with Army Division 711 in the African Shores Theater. My father, just like the heroes of Omaha Beach, never saw himself as a hero. Like thousands of others, Dad made a simple decision: the country called and needed his service, so he went. Like thousands of others, he suffered what was then known as "shell shock", but we now call PTSD. When I was just 3 years old, Daddy was in the psychiatric unit of West Penn Hospital, where he received 10 shock treatments. My mother took my older brother and me to see him every single day for a year. We drove the 20+ miles when my brother, who was in first grade, got home from school. I still remember the nuns in the hospital wearing their full habits and tall headdresses, silently moving down the hallways. And I remember that many men from the service were in the psychiatric ward with my father.
Like the thousands of others in the "Greatest Generation", my father never talked about the war. When I went away to college to study Education and English, I brought home a book called Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo. The book is about a boy who survives the war - but he has no arms, no legs, he can't speak, and he is blind. It is a true anti-war book like none other. Dad asked if he could read it, and the message of the book hit him in the heart. Suddenly, when we had alone time, Dad shared a few small stories about the war.
Seeing the World War II veterans during the ceremonies this week made me think of my father. All of the men in the cemetery are heroes, and all of the survivors who went back to Normandy for this final time are heroes. I hope they could feel the love from the President of France, from President Trump, and all who gathered at the 75th remembrance. I hope teachers were watching, and that they will share the stories of the fateful D-Day invasion with their classes, and keep the mantra that "freedom is not free" alive in their classrooms.
My parents always remembered June 6, and my mother discussed D-Day with us when we were growing up. She wanted us to understand the sacrifices of others, and through the years, I have remembered what she said about those heroes. Even now, I marvel at the humility of the 90+ year old veterans who are still alive and attended the ceremony. In this world where most people do not know the definition of humility, they continue to educate us through their actions, more than their words.
Thank you to the men and women who served in World War II, for your sacrifice and courage. Thank you for our freedom.
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Please invite Grady Gets Glasses (and me) into your school. if you are not in the Pittsburgh area, we do virtual field trips with a group called Field Trip Zoom. www.Fieldtripzoom.com GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 and 2018 (new edition) from The Authors' Zone.Grady also won a 2018 prestigious Moonbeam Award for Best Children's Book with Merchandise.
Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required reading. Signed copies are available www.dederittman.com Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics.
I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books. Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self. However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired!
Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom. Check them out! http://www.fieldtripzoom.com/
Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book. I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading. Please email me at email@example.com The website www.gradygetsglasses.com now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!
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